Leeds have been handed a major blow before their Premier League clash against Chelsea on Saturday afternoon, with the news that Pascal Struijk will not be available for Marcelo Bielsa.
Ahead of the game against the Blues today, The Athletic’s Phil Hay confirmed that the midfielder will once again be missing from first team action after his absence against West Ham last time out.
While Struijk has faced some criticism from certain sections of the Leeds support this season, he still offers some strong defensive qualities which would have been perfect for a game against an in-form side like Chelsea.
As per Whoscored, he averages an impressive two tackles and two interceptions per game in the Premier League this season, ranking him sixth and second respectively among his Leeds teammates.
The 21-year-old is also one of the rare Leeds players who’s dominant in the air, winning 1.8 aerial duels per match, and scoring a thumping header from a corner against Arsenal earlier this year – no surpise given he stands at 6 foot 3.
Former Leeds man Dominic Matteo is seemingly a big fan of him, saying: “He reads the game a lot better than he’s credited for. He’ll get even better too. Struijk is one to look out for.
“There’s plenty of work to be done but, with the size of him, his physicality, his passing, he’s got it all and can step into midfield. He looks very calm on the ball, players who are a bit erratic are not for me but he looks comfortable in possession.”
While Leeds have been boosted by the recent return to fitness of the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Rodrigo, having Struijk out against Chelsea – who are unbeaten in their 11 games under new manager Thomas Tuchel – will surely have Bielsa concerned and worried.